Kyodo: Japan developing tracking system for travelers from overseas as “anti-virus measure”


In a development that has been anticipating for quite some time (see, for example, the remotely-trackable RFID chipped Zairyuu Kaado ID cards the Government rolled out in 2012 to keep better tabs on NJ Residents), according to a Kyodo article below the Government is using the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as an excuse to enact programs digitally tracking all foreign tourists.

Nothing quite like being forced to wear the equivalent of a GPS criminal tracker for your entire stay. And it’s not a stretch to see it being applied beyond tourists to NJ Residents after that, as Covid is providing a pretense to “track and trace” those “foreign clusters”. As CNN notes, “If visitors are allowed [to attend the Olympics], their experience will likely be high-tech. The government is developing a contract tracing app for attendees using GPS that will reportedly link visas, proof of test results, tickets and other information, authorities said.”

Visas? So we’re getting Immigration involved? As Submitter JDG notes, “Obviously, it’s just a matter of time until the Japanese demand all NJ are 24/7 tracked legally in real time with an automated alert popping up on some koban monitor the minute their visas expire. That ought to end that nefarious den of crime right there! Whew.”

So with technological advances, the dragnet further tightens on “the foreign element” in Japan. As we have seen with the G8 Summits, the 2002 soccer World Cup, the 2019 Rugby World Cup, “Visit Japan” tourism campaigns in general, and now the 2020 Olympics, international events in Japan serve to inflame its knee-jerk “safety and security” reflexes, and justify all manner of bad overpolicing habits. They essentially become an excuse to invite foreigners in, then police them further. …continue reading


All aboard Japan’s new Super Mario Nintendo World train!【Photos】

A very special train to carry fans to Universal Studios Japan’s Super Nintendo World.

Super Mario’s adventures take him to a lot of fantastic realms, and he’s ridden all sorts of conveyances through them, from hyper-speed go-karts to saddled dinosaurs. But when getting around real-world Japan, the best option is the train, so that’s how the Nintendo mascot is getting around Osaka these days.

On Wednesday West Japan Railway Company (also known as JR west) started service of its Super Nintendo World train, which features super cool artwork of Mario and his friends and foes. Naturally the star himself is represented, as are brother Luigi, Princess Peach, nemesis Bowser, and enemies such as Piranha Plants, Koopa Troopas, Bullet Bills, and Lakitu.


— みか探〜みかん探訪記〜 (@mikantanbouki) January 26, 2021

The train will, appropriately, run on the Osaka Loop and Sakurajima Lines, since the Sakurajima Line is where you’ll find Universal City Station, the closest stop to Universal Studios Japan. The theme park was supposed to be holding the grand opening for its Super Nintendo World expansion this month, but that long-awaited event has been delayed due to the government-declared state of emergency regarding growing coronavirus infection numbers.


主にユニバーサルシティ方面桜島行きに配属されるようです。#USJ #マリオ #SuperNintendoWorld

— USJ情報局 L.C.A.STUDIOS (@LCASTUDIOS_USJ) January 27, 2021

JR West had obviously intended for its Super Mario train to start running at the same time as the USJ expansion’s opening, but has decided to go ahead with it anyway. “We have come to this decision in the hope of giving everyone something to smile about as we look forward to Super Nintendo World’s opening” said the rail operator in announcing the train.

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Death Note manga’s first new collected volume in 14 years announced

Grab an apple and get set to spend some quality time with Ryuk again.

With people spending far more time at home over the past year, odds are anime and manga fans have whittled down a lot of their backlogs, and maybe even taken to revisiting series they’d already finished. But if you’re a Death Note fan craving content, you’ll be thrilled to know that there’s a new volume of the supernatural thriller on the way.

Titled Death Note Short Stories, it’ll be the first new (i.e. non-reprint) volume of the manga to go on sale in more than 14 years. The main draw here is the inclusion of Death Note a Kira Chapter, which ran in the March 2020 edition of manga anthology Jump Square, and hasn’t been made available for purchase in any collected Death Note volume until now. The one-shot story stars Minoru Tanaka, a genius junior high school student who becomes the latest human to use the power of Shinigami Ryuk to try to shape the world into the way he thinks it should be.

Also included in in the 226-page Death Note Short Stories are other one-shot chapters created between 2003 and 2020 and yon-koma (“four-panel”) manga strips. Artist Takeshi Obata has penned a new illustration to serve as the book’s cover, showing Minoru, Ryuk, and, of course, an apple.

Death Note Short Stories goes on sale February 4, priced at 540 yen (US$5.20), and can be pre-ordered through Amazon Japan here.

Source: PR Times via Livedoor News/Oricon News via Otakomu
Images: PR Times
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Izumo Folkcrafts Museum (exterior)

For years I had driven past signs pointing to the Izumo Mingeikan, but it wasnt’t until recently that I visited it, and I must say I was very pleasantly surprised.It is housed on the property of the Yamamoto family, one of the wealthiest familes in the Izumo region in historical times.The main house is still a residence and neither it nor the garden can be visited.The museum is housed in

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No Pianos, Pets or Foreigners! Book Review

I first arrived in Japan in 1998 to start my working career after graduating from university in Australia with a business degree. Japan was a vastly different place then to what it is now, and I was lucky to catch the very tail-end of the golden boom period. I was one of the few foreigners living in my small city in central Japan, and I can tell you that I had a lot of unique and interesting experiences as one of the only westerners in my area, but that is a story for another day.

Joe Palermo the writer of No Pianos, Pets or Foreigners arrived even earlier than I did, but we share many of the same Japan experiences and Japan stories.

The Book’s Content

No Pianos, Pets or Foreigners is a short, easy to read 87-page book full of interesting Japan experiences from the perspective of a foreigner living in Japan in the 1980s.

Many of the stereotypes of a foreigner in Japan from the 1980s still, unfortunately, remain today, such as “Wow! You can speak Japanese. How are you able to do that? ” and “Your chopstick skills are amazing for a non-Japanese!”

Here is a little from the book and the author.

“A young Japanese woman was running through Tokyo station screaming “Save me! Save me!” There was a Japanese man chasing her and closing in. He grabbed her wrist and caught her about 10 feet in front of me. The woman was still yelling “Save me! Save Me!” but the Japanese people in the crowded station ignored her, not wanting to get involved. This is the beginning of just one of the stories from my experience living in Japan in the 1980’s, where I had moved right after graduating university. It was still rare to see …continue reading


Yakiniku rice burger: A bento boxed lunch you can eat with one hand

New Japanese burger comes in three sizes, depending on how much of a meat tower you can handle.

If you like yakiniku, you’ll like Yakiniku Like, a restaurant chain in Japan that specialises in solo-grill yakiniku dining. Always looking to please the solo diner, with only a few two-person-max booths available at each location, there’s now even more reason to like Yakiniku Like, as they’ve just come out with “a yakiniku bento you can eat with one hand“.

▼ A bento is a boxed meal containing rice and a number of other ingredients like meat and vegetables.

Image: © SoraNews24

Yakiniku Like’s handheld-take on the bento is served up as a burger, containing essential ingredients like rice, meat, and sauce. The rice component appears in the form of two “buns”, seasoned with soy sauce for extra flavour, while the filling contains delicious kalbi, marinated barbecued beef rib meat, along with some lettuce for freshness, kimchi for extra punch and a special Gochujang mayonnaise, made with a Korean red chilli paste.

▼ Pictured at top is the large size, while the images left to right below show the small, medium and tower sizes.

Priced at 350 yen (US$3.37) for the small, 420 yen for the medium, 620 yen for the large and 1,050 yen for the Tower, each yakiniku burger is made to order and is only available for takeout or delivery.

On the menu from 28 January, the burger will be limited to the chain’s Shibuya Udagawacho store, with plans to release the special menu item at other locations depending on response from customers.

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Woman in Japan disciplined after putting up partition between herself and older male coworker

City hall worker denies man’s physical handicap was part of her motivation.

One unique aspect of Japanese work culture is the lack of cubicles or private offices. Instead, coworkers sit side by side at long tables, like the one shown above.

It’s believed that this more open layout helps foster communication, empathy, and teamwork. However, when a man in Kagoshima Prefecture, on Japan’s southwest island of Kyushu, showed up for work he discovered that the coworker who sits next to him had decided to do some remodeling by putting up a barrier between his desk and hers.

That morning, the 50-something man’s female employee and table neighbor, who is in her 20s, had arrived at the office before him and set up a partition made of black cardboard between their sections of the table. The barrier was about 40 centimeters (15.7 inches) tall and 50 centimeters long, large enough so that the two of them couldn’t see each other if seated.

That probably would have made for an awkward shift, but instead of clocking in the man, feeling bullied, went home. The incident occurred on October 16 and the man hasn’t been back to work since. He’s since been diagnosed with adjustment disorder and is currently on sick leave.

The woman kept the partition up for the first few days even after the man stopped coming to work, but has since taken it down. However, she is now being disciplined for her actions, which the city hall administration has deemed “inappropriate.” When asked why she put up the partition, the woman said “Working with him has been a recurring source of stress. I just couldn’t take it anymore, and I put up the barrier without …continue reading


What’s it like to eat at the Pokémon Cafe in Tokyo right now?

The world’s first permanent Pokémon Cafe is feeling the blow of Japan’s international travel restrictions.

Back in March 2018, the world’s first permanent Pokémon Cafe opened alongside the Pokémon Centre megastore in Tokyo’s Nihonbashi district, and we were one of the first to reserve a table.

Sadly, our Pokémon-obsessed Japanese-language reporter P.K. Sanjun missed out on attending at the time, and after trying in vain to secure a reservation for months afterwards, the coronavirus pandemic arrived, disrupting the cafe’s business hours and forcing P.K. to give up on his dream of tasting ’em all.

However, during this time P.K.’s young daughter was fast developing a love for Pokémon, and this year the now-four-year-old had become just as keen as her father to visit the cafe, which had taken on a Disneyland-like appeal in their eyes.

With his daughter’s dreams upon his shoulders, P.K. decided to be the very best dad, like no one ever was, and attempted to make a reservation yet again. Surprisingly, he managed to get a booking with ease, likely because current travel restrictions imposed by the pandemic meant reservation battles with fans from around the world were considerably less intense.

His previous failed attempts to get in ended up being a blessing in disguise, though, because this way he was able to share his first time at the cafe with his Pokémon-loving daughter, who would’ve been too young to appreciate just how special it was when it first opened.

▼ So it was a special day when P.K. and his daughter arrived at the cafe, making their way past Snorlax, Pikachu and Mew in the lobby the cafe shares with the shiny Pokémon Centre next door.

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KitKat releases new Japanese plum flavor to celebrate Japan’s most beautiful winter flowers


Ume sweets prove there’s more to seasonal desserts than just sakura.

No sooner does the midwinter chill begin to fade than Japan starts looking forward to the spring sakura season, and sakura dessert season too. But before the cherry blossoms arrive there’s another beautiful flower that’ll be blooming across the country, and it’s getting a sweet treat of its own.

February is when Japan’s ume (plum) trees start to blossom, and in anticipation of the annual event Nestle Japan is now selling a special ume-flavor KitKat.


満開の #キットカット 梅味が食べ頃となりそうです

— キットカット (@KITKATJapan) January 11, 2021

To clarify, these are not to be confused with the umeshu (plum wine) KitKats from a few years back. Ume’s taste is somewhere between that of a western plum and apricot, with a complex mixture of sweet and tangy notes. The ume KitKats incorporate the flavor both inside and out, with an ume chocolate coating and ume powder cream interspaced with the cookie wafers.


満開の #キットカット 梅が食べ頃です🌸



— キットカット (@KITKATJapan) January 26, 2021

The ume KitKats are on sale now, and can even be purchased online through Rakuten here for 324 yen (US$3.15) for a 13-piece pack. They’ll only be available for a limited time, one which isn’t likely to be very long given ume’s brief moment in the spotlight before the sakura become the center of attention, but if you want proof that plum blossoms can be just as beautiful as their more famous cherry counterparts, these breathtaking photos should do the trick.

Source, featured image: Twitter/@KITKATJapan
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Tokyo apartment sale prices increase for 8th year in a row

In 2020 the average sale price of an existing apartment across greater Tokyo saw a year-on-year increase for the 8th consecutive year. According to REINS, the average sale price was 551,700 Yen/sqm, up 3.2% from 2019. Sale prices have increased by 44.5% over the past 8 years.

The average apartment size was 65.24 sqm (702 sq.ft), up 1.3% from 2019, while the average building age was 21.99 years (2019: 21.64 years). Apartments took an average of 88.3 days to sell, up 8.2 days from 2019.

Transactions of apartments priced over 100 million Yen were up 7.2% from 2019 and up 75% from 2016. The sub-50 million Yen price has seen transactions fall.

As expected, the number of listings to hit the market in 2020 dropped for the second year in a row with a 11.3% decrease in 2020. The average size of an apartment listed for sale was 57.08 sqm (614 sq.ft), and the average building age was 26.83 years.

Overall, a total of 35,825 apartments were reported to have sold, down 6.0% from 2019. This may be due to the state of emergency that saw many brokerages temporarily close their doors in April and May. This number exceeds the supply of brand-new apartments that sold across Tokyo as developers continue to struggle with a shortage of available land sites, rising construction costs, and temporary showroom closures during the state of emergency.

It is also worth noting that the data provided by REINS only includes sales that were publicly reported to their listing database. A larger number of transactions go unreported, which means the actual transaction volume for existing apartments is higher.

Detached Home Sales

A total of 13,348 detached homes were reported to have sold across greater Tokyo, up 2.4% from 2019 and exceeding a previous record set in 2016. The average sale …continue reading